La Vie Est Belle Celebrates Five Years with New Ventures (on SoWal.com)
If you have visited South Walton, then you have likely seen Fine Pearl & Leather Jewelry by Wendy Mignot®, sold at La Vie Est Belle in Seaside. Wendy’s jewelry beautifully represents the laid-back lifestyle of SoWal by combining leather with South Sea pearls. Since the opening of the store in 2008, a lot has happened, but the beauty and quality has remained the same.
You must stop in to Wendy’s store on the west side of Seaside’s Central Square – it has blossomed into one of the most unique places to shop anywhere on the globe, with an amazing array of diverse products created by world-class artists and artisans. Wendy makes her coveted creations along with her husband Jean Noel. The duo creates each design by hand. He drills the holes in the pearls and rolls the leather, while she creates and crafts the designs. La Vie Est Belle also has the largest collection of ancient Greek, Roman, and shipwrecked coins in the Southeastern U.S. – each coin is incorporated into a one-of-a-kind jewelry design and comes with a certificate of authenticity.
Wendy has always revered individuality and understands what customers desire. “My goal is to create something unique, with great craftsmanship and quality. That is the key to success,” she says.
Wendy recently partnered with yoga instructor Laura Bailey, the owner of The Studio in Seaside, to create the One Eye Love collection. Wendy began taking classes with Laura a few years ago and fell in love with yoga. Together they decided to create a yoga-inspired jewelry collection. Wendy has been making jewelry for 20 years and Laura has been practicing yoga for 20 years. Together they make the perfect team and blend their talents seamlessly.
“I taught her yoga, she taught me jewelry-making, and its just works,” says Laura.
The collection is made up of Japa Mala pearl chains, consisting of 108 pearls and also shorter necklaces with Hindu deities, such as Shiva, Shakti, and Hanuman. Each necklace and bracelet is unique – “not one the same.” Wendy and Laura live by a basic tenet of yoga – “do no harm” – which is why they commission fair trade companies to create the special charms. When you purchase from the collection, you will receive a One Eye Love jewelry bag, which is handmade in India and all proceeds go to an orphanage in Mumbai.
Wendy also joined forces with Rocky Hard of Rock Hard Designs to bring together the Burning Water collection of his, with the Fine Pearls and Leather of hers. These two local artists have both gained national and international attention and become South Walton favorites.
La Vie Est Belle has offered creations from multiple artists and artisans over the years. Today, La Vie Est Belle carries hats by Haute Handcrafted Accessories by local artist, Gaelle Le Goff. She designs the hats that are made and imported from Ecuador where she is from.
Jimmi wZ bags have become a must-have item for locals and visitors. Jimmi wZ Hand Wrought Bags are custom designed, one-of-a-kind creations utilizing the finest leathers available from around the world. Each bag is hand stitched from leathers such as buffalo, elk, deer, alligator, moose and steer hide. All leather is carefully chosen for its color, texture, softness, and durability.
La Vie Est Belle also carries pom poms from Mexico handmade by Wendy’s sister-in-law, Isabel Uriate. Paul Pearman Fine Art Buckles are also featured at La Vie Est Belle. Paul creates mosaic belt buckles by hand to bring you a unique piece of art to wear on your hips. Jean Noel now has a line of leather cuffs made from alligator and snakeskins and embellished with pearls and stones. Dawn C. Whitty Photography is showcased in La Vie Est Belle as well. Dawn has been working with Wendy from the beginning. Her Underwater Ladies series and Boutique Wedding series photos are featured on the large flat screen in the back of the store.
La Vie Est Belle has gained an international market and ships all over the world. Wendy is a talented woman and chooses distinctive and skilled artists to join her at La Vie Est Belle. She has created a store that is both beautiful and comfortable with a friendly staff. If you don’t have a “”Wendy” yet, what are you waiting for?
Photos by Dawn C. Whitty